(LifeWire) - Question: What does it mean if I have itching and burning after sex?
Answer: Since these symptoms are not normal effects of sexual intercourse, itching and burning are signals that something is amiss in the vagina.
Several types of vaginal conditions can cause itching and burning, especially various infections, although not all of them are linked to sex. Here are some conditions:
- Yeast infections: Itching and burning are two of many possible symptoms of a yeast infection, which is also known as candidiasis and is quite common. Other symptoms include a curd-like, thick, white vaginal discharge and swelling of the labia, the lips around the vagina. Yeast infections can sometimes be spread through sex, but not always, because virginal girls can get yeast infections also. Otherwise, your partner may also be suffering from an itchy genital rash. If you suspect a yeast infection but have never had one before, see your doctor. Those who have repeat yeast infections may use over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams or vaginal suppository treatments.
- Trichomoniasis: A single-celled parasite that can also live in men's prostate glands, trichomoniasis can cause frothy, yellow-green vaginal discharge as well as itching. It cannot be treated with OTC products, so see your doctor if you suspect trichomoniasis is causing your symptoms.
- Vaginitis: A nonspecific term that means inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can result from sexual intercourse or any other factor that disrupts the normal balance of the vagina, which contains bacteria that help cleanse the vagina and keep it naturally moist.
- Vaginal irritation: Intercourse-related factors that can cause vaginal irritation, itching and burning may include the use of cream and jelly spermicides or other vaginally inserted contraceptives, including the sponge. Also, menopausal women, whose lower estrogen levels sometimes cause vaginal thinning and drying, may find sex especially irritating to the vagina. OTC vaginal creams that increase lubrication during sex may help.
- Allergic reactions: Much less common than infections, allergies can also cause vaginal itching and burning after sex. Women can sometimes be allergic to semen, a situation that can vary from partner to partner depending on the particular proteins contained in the seminal fluid of each. First documented in 1958 in Germany, semen allergies are difficult to track because of the private nature of the symptoms, which women may not choose to discuss with their doctors. After ruling out infection, women who suspect they are allergic to their partner's semen can try using condoms during intercourse. If her previous post-sex symptoms disappear, semen allergy is likely to be the culprit.
See: Semen Allergies
Condoms themselves, however, can also cause after-intercourse itching and burning in women who are allergic to latex, the natural rubber used to make most condoms. People who are latex-sensitive will often discover this through exposure during other experiences, such as medical procedures involving latex gloves. Since latex allergies can be serious -- even causing life-threatening symptoms, such as breathing difficulties -- women with this condition are advised to use special latex-free condoms or entirely use other types of contraceptives.
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